Jail conditions cause controversy among readers

October 7, 2018

A Huntington attorney has filed two lawsuits against authorities at Western Regional Jail in Barboursville alleging that the combination of understaffing and overcrowding is affecting inmates’ safety.

The lawsuits claim there are occasions when officers order inmates to harm others, administer physical punishment in excess of what the situation requires and continually fail to properly search inmates, most of which could be directly connected to issues of understaffing and inmate overcrowding.

The lawsuits allege the jail’s failure to properly staff, hire, train, retain and supervise its correctional officers leads to an unsafe confinement facility and subjects the inmates to cruel and unusual punishment.

Over the summer, the inmate population at the jail averaged 825 to 850 inmates for a facility designed for about 575.

Readers of HD Media weighed in with their opinions of the jail situation.

Drema Nance: “First off it’s not the workers fault that their overcrowded! If the federal government would take their inmates the regional won’t be overcrowded! Second they are in jail not a hotel paying for their stay. And yes I have been there before and didn’t blame anyone else for what I had to go through but myself! Third inmates hurt each other all the time and it has nothing to do with the officers telling them too! The officers are doing the best they can with what they have to work with. To blame and take it out on them is not wrong! I’m sure the officers get upset and overwhelmed with all the inmates they have to deal with everyday! I couldn’t imagine what all they have to deal with. Consider all the drug dealers, addicits, and just the oh no I messed up people that come in and out has to be a nightmare!!! When the criminals have more rights than the workers there’s a problem! Everyone wants to be safe and feel safe but then complain about how the government goes about keeping them safe!”

Gordo Hefe: “I was just incarcerated there about three days ago for my first three days I slept on the floor without a mat or blankets there was about 20 of us in a holding cell and maybe two guys had a mat when I was finally brought to a pod I still had to sleep on the floor for an additional day before I received a mat and I also was pushed to the side when I tried to let them know about my medical conditions I had recently just had surgery for cancer on my kidney about a month prior to that I have diabetes I have all servers and I also have a deteriorating disc in my spinal when I said that I was told to shut up and sit down”

Eileen Bellomy-Wiles: “It is very unsafe for the officers. I was a former correction officer and I have never seen an officer tell an inmate to hurt another inmate. I have seen other inmates do whatever they can to ‘cap’ doors and they will get out and hurt others to take their stuff. It is insane what happens and it isn’t right. Crowding is an issue and Wolfe did say that but he also said if the prisons would take those that are already sentenced then the crowding would go down. That is a fact. There are many there in the jail that have already been sentenced and are serving their time because the prisons are overcrowded also. I left because I have a family and I am not going to be hurt by an inmate and worry about a lawsuit on behalf of the inmate because I protect myself. The inmates have more rights than any of the officers.”

Norivik Dusk: “See civilians don’t understand the stuff we go through so the slightest bad thing that happens is of course blown out of proportion because they’re going to believe a convicted felon.”

Tracie Spurlock Wheeler: “Unsafe for workers then also.”

Joyce Thompson: “I knew when they built that new jail they needed to build it bigger. I toured the Cabell County jail years ago and they had buckets catching roof leaks and an 80 year-old man that was only in there for public intoxication sleeping on the concrete floor and i said thats totally rediculous your treating this frail elderly man that done nothing bad worse than a serial killer plus it was overcrowded past the fire codes etc. They told me they were out of beds an floor mats plus they weren’t getting the bad diabetics their daily meds for it. I told them they better find some fireproof mats immediately for the 9 people having to lay on concrete or I was calling Herald Dispatch Newspaper and the news. They miraculously suddenly got 9 mats and that elderly man had a mat to sleep on in there. They have no one to listen or speak up for them when the conditions are deplorable or other.”

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